More tips on a career in childcare - Tales of a Domestic Worker
2017-09-01 15:46:30 -

Mariaam Bhatti: Tales of a Domestic Worker

My second experience was working for a family, looking after the youngest child, a baby at the time, and later on, when he was a year older, his brothers as well.


This job gave me flexibility because I had my own place, a 15-minute walk from the family’s home, an easy journey to make four days a week, and I completely loved the job. I looked forward to it every day because I was paid well, according to the minimum wage. I had control of my own life. 


When the parents arrived home from work, usually around 6pm, my own work day ended, and I walked or cycled home to do all the things that people do in their home after work – making dinner, catching up with friends, whatever I felt like doing. At weekends I didn’t work either, and I enjoyed my freedom.


The disadvantages in this job for me were mainly to do with those times when my services weren’t required. If the family went on holiday for a few weeks in the summer, I had no income for that time. Certainly in my first year with them, it came as a surprise, with too short notice to find myself temporary work elsewhere for the two or three weeks they would be away.


After that first year, however, I made sure to anticipate their annual getaway and secure a summer job to maintain my income. 


My latest childcare experience has been working in a creche with a team of five, caring for 30 toddlers between two and three years old.


Here again there are advantages in terms of my employment being formalised, with a contract and payslips. Working every day with so many youngsters can be so fascinating, too, as they are all unique as human beings. 


Some challenges in this role are the fast-paced environment that requires one to be on top of their game all the time, which can be tiring mentally and physically. Imagine having to lift up 17 children one after another for a nappy change, or trying to calm down half the room for an hour’s nap time, or simply during an activity, where one person is responsible to ensure 30 little ones don’t eat each other alive and pay attention. They are extremely cute, of course, but the reality of the work at the end of the day is exhausting. 


Whatever one’s childcare career path, as an au pair or childminder, living in or out of the house, or in creche or other large-scale setting, there are options to be explored. While they all have their strengths and weaknesses, I think it’s possible to find something that works for anyone’s circumstances.

Mariaam Bhatti is a member of the Domestic Workers Action Group and Force Labour Action Group of the Migrant Rights Centre Ireland


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